Prepare to see Instagram's Following activity tab disappear. For the uninitiated, this feature, which allowed users to see the activity of the accounts they followed, could once be accessed through the Activity page (or the heart button at the app's bottom-right corner, where you see your new likes and followers), by tapping the word Following.
The tab made seemingly innocuous social media behaviour—liking photos, making comments, following accounts—public record, tracking activity that occurred either seconds or weeks ago. Essays have been written about relationships scathed after a partner discovers that their significant other liked someone else's bikini photos at 3 am, and uncomfortable truths have materialised after users saw that their family members liked other suspicious content.
Still, the reason for the feature's closure is less controversial. The Following tab, which was intended to let users discover new accounts by browsing their networks' activity, was made obsolete by Instagram's Explore page, a newer feature that presents content in a more digestible format.
Instagram confirmed to BuzzFeed that the tab's removal will roll out this week. For most, the Following tab's disappearance will likely go unnoticed. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Instagram's head of product, Vishal Shah, said that the small amount of users who actually frequent the tab may mean that not many realise it even exists. And for those cursed with awareness, the function perhaps proved to be more toxic than enlightening.
when hasnt the instagram "following" tab ended in heartbreak— 𝘋𝘈𝘙𝘊𝘐𝘌 𝘞𝘐𝘓𝘋𝘌𝘙 (@333333333433333) November 25, 2016
"People didn't always know that their activity was surfacing," Shah said to the outlet. "So you have a case where it's not serving the use case you built it for, but it's also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up."
Some have lamented the feature's quiet end and, with it, the loss of creeping on their crush's inevitably heartbreaking social media exploits or just the simple ability to snoop through their friends' weird niche interests (like, why is your roommate liking a dozen slime-squishing videos instead of washing their dishes?).
An essay at Slate mourned the Following-tab-sized hole in American culture, arguing that we common Instagram folk lost the invaluable power to monitor the social media behaviour of public figures. Still, for most, the art that is liking (or purposefully not liking) Instagram photos will continue as usual.
RIP to the instagram following tab which always faithfully and without reservation told me who my crushes were fucking whether i wanted to know or not— tiffany (@radioheadass) October 7, 2019
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